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Wanted: A Veteran Wide Receiver...Maybe


I see this morning that Miles Austin tweaked his hamstring again and is resting it. It's questionable whether he will play on Saturday, or even in the pre-season finale.

Now, Austin hasn't really demonstrated a history of injuries - at least since he's become a starter, but it's not the best news for a speedster to be hampered by a lingering hammy, is it?

According to ESPN, "[i]t is highly likely the next time"Austin...step[s] on the field will be for the Sept. 11 regular-season opener." So it seems that the Cowboys will start the season with Austin having no live pre-season experience (fwiw), and with the possibility that his hamstring problem could return at any moment, as hammys are wont to do.

It may even be possible that the team could be lining up on opening day against the Jets without Austin, which would leave an offense where Kevin Ogletree is the grizzled veteran at one receiver position and a volatile, relatively inexperienced and injury-prone Dez Bryant is the other starter. Behind those two (with a combined 55 career catches) are a couple of low draft picks in Dwayne Harris and Manny Johnson, a reality star in Jesse Holley and a few undrafted free agents.

I'm not saying that they shouldn't have cut Roy Williams, although I am still bitter about losing Crayton last year. But what's done is done. And I know the hoary arguments that "Witten is really the team's #2 receiver" and "we don't want to bring in any progress stoppers," but really - if this hamstring injury is of any severity, I don't think the offense can rely on these greenhorns to provide any sort of consistent production. And if the Cowboys are forced to start newbies at WR, you can bet opposing defenses will focus on taking out Witten. The great tight end may still get his catches, but they will likely be for short yardage under this scenario. 

This has the potential to play out like the beginning of 2009, where the team had Roy Williams penciled in as a starter (and he'd already demonstrated his underacheiving abilities in 2008) and Patrick Crayton ostensibly as the other (and we all knew Crayton was never really a true #2 WR), as many worried whether the offense could replace the big-play capability of Terrell Owens. And sure enough, the passing game sputtered the first four games and the team went 2-2. Fortunately, Miraculous Miles stepped up against the Chiefs in week 5 and asserted himself as a real #1 receiver, letting Williams, Crayton and Hurd be serviceable other options. But who is the Miles Austin in the group of Ogletree, Harris, Holley et al? At least Austin showed flashes of greatness prior to his breakout season, as with his kickoff return for a TD against Seattle in the playoffs, and his 2-115-1 performance against the Packers in 2008 (as well as 2 other TD grabs that year). We haven't seen anything remotely close to that from the Cowboys' current crop of rube receivers that would give us any glimmer of hope (and don't even think that Harris's 76 yard catch and run is comparable).

In an idea world, Austin and Bryant would be one of the best receiving combos in the league. The team and we as fans have been incredibly lucky to have an undrafted free agent become a superstar and have a potential stud fall to their draft spot last year. But hamstrings and foot injuries loom large, and I am extremely nervous about having a bunch of nobodies backing them up. This isn't groundbreaking news, obviously. So the question is just as obvious - should the team starting scouring the waiver wires for young diamonds in the rough or wideouts with some experience? Does Jerry still have Terrell Owens's phone number?

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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